Thought Leadership

Our leading subject matter experts share their insightful analysis and points of view to help you stay abreast of industry trends

Communication Trends: How to Prepare for Effective Pharma/Payer Meetings

By Jonathan Cecire and Dinesh Kabaleeswaran

Manufacturers engage with managed care organizations (MCOs) in a number of ways, from deep conversations regarding clinical indications and brand coverage to general sessions focused on product portfolios and overall business. Although pharma companies have historically engaged with payers in phase III of the drug development lifecycle, pharma/payer meetings are now shifting to earlier in the timeline, during phase I and phase II.

From a pharma company’s perspective, the goal for payer meetings is to ensure that a product’s clinical and financial value is effectively communicated, and brands have favorable coverage. Typically, account managers, medical science liaisons, and/or key opinion leaders attend these meetings, sharing everything from clinical trial data to head-to-head product comparisons, real-world data, and overall health economic information.

To learn more about current pharma/payer communication trends, MMIT conducted extensive research on the fundamental characteristics of these engagements to produce the Payer Messaging Playbook, which helps manufacturers prepare for their meetings with MCOs.

Let’s take a look at how our key takeaways can support pharma companies in advocating for better payer alignment, communication and decision-making.

Shifts in Meeting Duration, Expectations, and Focus

  1. Over the past 12 months, there has been a notable 14% decrease in the duration of payer/manufacturer meetings. Average meeting time fell from 37 minutes per meeting in 2022 to 32 minutes per meeting in 2023. In this era of bite-sized content consumption, this decline is not unsurprising. It is also important to note that the number of new drug launches during this same period increased by nearly 32%.

    As manufacturers are naturally more likely to meet with payers in support of new launches, an increase in meeting frequency may have contributed to a decline in average meeting duration.Manufacturers would do well to explore new ways of engaging payers in addition to the traditional types of information exchange. As the rise of omni-channel HCP brand marketing might indicate, payers are similarly eager to receive high quality information in shorter timeframes, using more creative digital means. As they say, good things are delivered in small doses.

  2. For the first time in ten years, MMIT observed a slight downward trend in 2023 in the perceived effectiveness and value of payer-manufacturer engagements from the lens of the MCO. Given the large degree of competitiveness in highly managed categories, medical and pharmacy directors are often placed in situations where they may have to make some tough decisions with respect to brand coverage. Of course, discounts and rebates influence these decisions.

    As a result, payers are frequently requesting head-to-head clinical trial data and real-world evidence in addition to pricing information and cost comparisons. The increase in payer expectations is likely contributing to the decrease in payers’ perception of meeting efficacy. From the manufacturer’s standpoint, the availability of sufficient real-world data, especially for rare disease indications and niche oncology biomarker types, is an ongoing challenge.

    Manufacturers should continually strive to differentiate their products in these meetings through straightforward but creative approaches, such as AI- driven digital marketing stimuli or even virtual reality demo experiences. Pharma companies can learn from the world of ecommerce, strengthening their brands with omnichannel support services, chatbots that mimic real-life service experiences, or loyalty programs and rewards.

  3. Meetings that are focused on financial topics, such as contracting, cost, and health economics, have seen an uptick of 8% since the previous year. In contrast, meetings that are focused on clinical topics, such as safety and efficacy data, have seen a notable 11% year-over-year reduction. With the introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) during a time when the pharmaceutical industry was already adjusting to a ‘new normal’ post-COVID, it is not surprising that there is an increased focus on financial topics in these payer-manufacturer engagements.

    Both industry payers and pharma organizations have a shared financial responsibility to adjust to the IRA’s regulations around maximum fair price (MFP) and Part D coverage. The increase in the average number of meeting minutes spent discussing financial topics may be driven by efforts to prepare for the forecasted impact of the IRA. In such a competitive landscape—one in which formulary exclusions and other cost management strategies are continually enforced—manufacturers would greatly benefit from coming to these meetings well-prepared to discuss financial avenues to maximize access.

Overall, payer-manufacturer engagements have moved on from traditional, extended meetings focused on a variety of topics to slightly shorter meetings focused on cost and contracting. Both stakeholder groups are constantly battling heightened expectations around increased value from these meetings.

Manufacturers with crisp communication and creative engagement methods will be at an advantage. To prepare for meetings, pharma companies should align their data and evidence with payer expectations and adjust their message accordingly prior to engagement. On the other hand, MCOs might feel more accomplished if they temper their goals for these meetings by setting realistic expectations regarding the availability of real-world evidence for rare diseases with niche patient populations.

Learn how MMIT’s Payer Messaging Playbook can help your team predict payer behavior and preferences to prepare for a successful meeting.

© 2024 MMIT
Jonathan Cecire

Jonathan Cecire

Jonathan Cecire works as an analyst for MMIT's Message Monitor team. Over the years, Jonathan has utilized market research as well as analytics to provide clients with actionable insights and strategies for managing products across many therapeutic areas. Jonathan holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Marist College and a master’s in experimental psychology from Seton Hall University.

Dinesh Kabaleeswaran

Dinesh Kabaleeswaran is the senior vice president of Insights at Norstella. His team provides market access context and a market research narrative for Norstella’s data and technology products. Dinesh has more than eight years of managed care experience, advising large biopharmaceutical clients on pre- and post-launch strategies across oncology, non-oncology and immunology therapeutic areas. Dinesh holds a master’s in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

Related Posts

November 16

Under Pressure, Payers Are Reevaluating Prior Authorizations

Read More
October 5

What Does Member Disruption Mean to Payers?

Read More
lab and claims data generate evidence
January 18

How Claims and Lab Data Helps Pharma Generate Real-World Evidence

Read More


Sign up for publications to get unmatched business intelligence delivered to your inbox.

subscribe today